A 34-member task force has been meeting for nearly a year to determine the needs of schools in the Anoka-Hennepin School District.
This week the "Fit for the Future" Task Force presented its findings and recommendations to the School Board.
"I think there were a lot of a-ha moments," says Kate Thunstrom, Fit for the Future Co-Chair. For ten months, the Fit for the Future task force has looked at facility needs for District 11 schools.
"This task force was formed out of a charge from the school board to take a look at what the schools needed in regards to capacity, our growth and also our technology needs," says Thunstrom.
The group, made up of parents, educators and community members, has met monthly since last spring.
The Fit for the Future Task Force studied community growth and enrollment projections, capacity of schools, staffing ratios, future program needs, school boundaries, transportation, condition of schools, technology infrastructure and finance.
On Monday night, they presented their total of nine findings and gave recommendations to the school board.
Some specific recommendations include: Updating and improving learning spaces, creating new schools in Blaine, Dayton and Ramsey due to community growth, removing portable classrooms and creating addition space for special education needs.
"Seeing that information as a voter is really important, because it really does tell the story of how our community schools are used and the financial picture as a whole," says Thunstrom.
54-year old Coon Rapids High School is the oldest building in the district, and in need of updates, repairs and improvements. The future of District 11 school facilities will likely rest in the hands of voters, in a referendum later this year.
"Right now is a good time in the next few years to look at a referendum, so one of the recommendations is the board consider that because our facilities are so old and need updating and we maybe need another school or two because of growth, so this would be a good time for them," says Chuck Holden, Chief Operations Officer, District 11.
While overcrowding and facility space continues to be one of the major issues facing district 11 schools, Holden is happy there is a need for more educational funding.
"It's a really good problem to have. If our schools were dropping enrollment and empty, it would be hard to justify making investments, but if we have populations coming into them, we really want to update our schools and make them warm and inviting for our kids," says Holden.
The School Board will now put a price tag on the recommendations and decide what items to include in a referendum. The facility updates, renovations and improvements would take place over the next 10-15 years.